A children's story：Gift of Tears
by Teruyo Yokota（横田 映代）
It was snowing outside. Megu ("Grace," in English) didn't notice, but it was already 7pm. The moonlight reflecting off the snow made the night seem brighter. From outside her window she heard a car parking by Ai's("Love") home, followed by cheerfull voices. She put down the book she'd been reading and furtively looked out the window.
"Welcome home, Daddy!"
Ai and her brother, Shin ("Belief" or "Faith"), popped out of their house and jumped up to their father, hanging off of his arms.
"Hi, kids! It's cold out here. Let's get back inside and have dinner, shall we?" their father said.
Megu could smell the appetizing aroma of the stew herself from the front door which had been left open. She closed and locked the window quietly.
"Mom always says to lock up for safety," she thought to herself, but deep down she knew that's not why she was closing the window. It was to keep from crying after breathing in the nice smell of that stew.
"Well, I think it's time for dinner, too ..."
She went to the refrigerator to get the food her mother had left for dinner, two riceballs and a shiny apple. There was a note in the fridge saying, "Dear Megu, here's your dinner." She went back to her closet and fetched a well-worn teddy bear, placing it in the chair across from her as she began to eat.
"Mom has to work late again," she told the bear. "We have to look after the house together." The bear was the only one she could talk with.
"Dad is probably drinking tonight, too ..."
Her father loved drinking more than anything else. Every night he came back late and very drunk, becoming violent with her mother. The violence lasted until the next morning, day after day.
It had been snowing the night she and her mother had finally run away, just like tonight. The cold had been piercing to the bone. They'd fled the house in their bare feet, escaping her father's violence which had become unbearable. Even now, when she thought of that night, she couldn't help from trembling,remembering the cold snow on her feet.
She thought of the light coming out of Ai's home once again. It seemed warm, like a fireplace in the snow. She continued to eat her riceball silently as she closed her eyes.
"Here you are," she said, offering some of the apple to her teddy bear before beginning to eat it herself. When her lonely dinner was over, she started putting her school stuff into a bag for tomorrow.
"Okay, teddy, let's go to bed."
Megu loved school because she didn't have to worry about being alone there. There were always cheerfull, vigorous voices everywhere. But more than anything else, she enjoyed being in school because she didn't have to see her Mom and Dad fighting. She acted happy while she was in school. The only thing that really bothered her was when her friends would talk about their own families; it made her feel out of place till she wanted to run away.
"I wish there was no night."
She opened the closet door holding her bear in her arms and climbed up easily to the top shelf. Her bedclothes were laid out there. There was a small light hanging from the ceiling by her pillow. On the dreary closet wall, there was a picture of a rabbit in a tuxedo with a happy looking girl. The small space in the closet ... it was only here she felt secure. It was her own space. She could cry in here as much as had to.
Although Megu had many friends, there was no one she could talk to about everything. She didn't feel right sharing her family situation since all her other friends seemed so happy with theirs. Even if she had had a chance to talk about it, she would not have. It was embarassing and shamefull.
After she had crept into bed and turned off the light, the tears began to fall down her cheeks. Why isn't my family like Ai's? It made her cry all the more.
A light suddenly appeared in her dark closet. A crystal sky-blue butterfly came out of it and flew down by her bedside. She looked at it carefully; it looked like a queen in a sky-blue dress, with the wings of an angel on it's back. She sat up in surprise and the wonderfull blue creature glided softly over onto her shoulder. She was even more surprised when it began to speak ...
"Tia ra Tia ra Turu roon!! How do you do, Megu? Sorry to surprise you!"
"Who are you?" Megu asked. "And how do you know my name?"
"I was born from your tears," the tiny fairy replied.
"Really? I must be dreaming ..."
The sky-blue creature looked at her as she stared, her eyes as big as saucers. She chuckled like a queen, placing a hand against her cheek.
"I'm a fairy from the Land of Tears," she said. "Here, look at this necklace."
She held a necklace up to Megu's eyes. It was too small for her to notice at first, but as she looked closer she saw that the stone of the necklace was a shining blue tear.
"This is the tear you just shed," the fairy continued. "Isn't it beautifull? Fairies of the Land of Tears are born with a tear necklace made from a tear someone has shed. I'm so happy to born today with this necklace from your tear, and I'm so happy to meet you, Megu."
Megu wasn't sure if she was dreaming or not, but she was enjoying having someone to talk to.
"It's strange," she said. "I was crying out of sadness before, but when I look at you so happy with the necklace from my tears, I feel good because I feel like I did something good."
"There, you see," the little fairy chuckled, "it is never meaningless to shed tears when you're sad or having trouble. Knowing sadness and trouble can help you understand the pain of others, too." She held up the necklace to Megu's eyes and cast a spell.
"Tia ra Tia ra Turururu roon!!"
Megu's body suddenly began to float up into the air, like an astronaut in space ... until she bumped against the ceiling and fell back down to her bed.
"Oops," said the fairy, "Something wrong? Didn't I learn the spell right?"
The little queen sat wondering for a while before trying again.
"Tia ra Tia ra Turu roon!!"
Megu's body began to float in the air again, this time without bumping into the ceiling.
"Ah, that's better!" the fairy said. "Let's go to the Land of Tears!"
She took Megu's hand and opened her wings. The next moment, they vanished from the closet.
Megu felt strange, as if she was swimming in a blue sea or sky. She floated along, being lead by the fairy.
"Ah, here we are," the fairy finally said.
Megu looked around and saw her father.
She shut her mouth as soon as she'd shouted it, but the fairy reassured her.
"That's alright, Megu. Your daddy can neither see nor hear you."
Megu was relieved for a moment, but became startled again as she suddenly saw herself standing there confronting her father.
"I hate you, Dad! I wish you were dead!"
"What?!" her father roared. "Say that again!" He raised his fist furiously in spite of himself, but just left it hanging there trembling.
"I remember this," said Megu. "This happened before."
"That's right," replied the fairy. "We've gone back in Time. In the Land of Tears, everytime someone sheds tears it gets recorded. Do you know what happened to your father next?"
Megu had no idea. She hadn't cared and had not even thought about it.
The scene changed, and she found herself standing with the fairy at the corner of a bar looking at a man mumbling to himself as he sat there. It was her father.
"No one understands me," he said. Megu saw that there were tears in his eyes. He was usually so frightening, but now he seemed weak and lonely. No! She shook her head and tried to forget about it; she would NEVER forgive her father!
"Let's go," said the fairy. "I have something more to show you."
Once again, Megu felt her body floating away.
This time, the scene changed to a shop selling boxed lunches by a station. Though it was late at night, there were still many people standing in line waiting to buy. They all stood with their hands in their pockets and their collars
turned up. The wind seemed very cold. The people in the shop all kept working
busily without a chance to rest.
Her mother worked in a restaurant by day, and now at night here she was in this snack shop. Megu had never seen her mother working before.
At this time of night, customers came non-stop until very late.
"I feel so sorry for her. Can I help her?" Megu asked the fairy.
"No, you can't change what has happened in the past," the fairy replied.
"The only thing you can change is what has yet to happen."
It was already midnight now. As soon as her work was finally finished, Megu's mother took off down the road on her bicycle, peddling as fast as she could in the cold, dark night. Megu and fairy followed after her in a fluster. As soon as her mother got home, she went straight to Megu's bedside. She stared at her sleeping for a long time.
"I'm sorry," her mother whispered in tears, "I'm sorry for making you so unhappy all the time ..."
"I'm sorry, Mom," Megu said in spite of herself, watching the scene before her. "I thought I was the most miserable girl in the whole world, but you were working so hard for me every day." She began to cry.
Suddenly, she found herself flying again in waves of blue light, but something was different this time. It was like her body was being pushed up in the air like a ballon.
"Where are you?" she called out to the fairy as her body spun about. "Where are we going this time?"
"I'm here, Megu. This is the first time for me to be up so high. But look! How beautifull it is!"
Everything was shining like they were looking up from the bottom of the sea. As they went higher, the waves of light blue gradually turned reddish and then purple till it seemed as if they were in a lavender field. Megu grew happy as she rose, dancing and spinning like a ballerina. She continued to rise until the waves of purple faded away and turned all to pink.
"Wheee! A lotus field!" she cried out. "I'm going to make a necklace with lotus flowers! I'm good at this!" She remembered once making flower necklaces with lotus and white clover in a spring field until sunset, long after all her friends had left and went back home.
"Isn't it nice? Fairy! Where are you?"
When she looked around, she found the fairy dancing, fluttering her skirt.
"Look, Megu! My dress is pink! It turned pink! How do I look? Doesn't it suit me? I so wanted to wear a pink dress. Oh, thank you Megu!"
The fairy ran up to Megu and, holding her hands, began dancing in a circle. They danced and danced, and felt as if they'd been friends since childhood.
They returned back to the real world, lying on their backs in the closet. There was a lotus necklace braided nicely around the fairy's neck.
"Ah, we danced a lot, didn't we Megu?" said the fairy, out of breath.
"Yes, it was nice."
They looked at each other and smiled.
"By the way," Megu asked, "why did you thank me for your dress turning pink?"
"It turned pink because of your Love Tears," the fairy replied.
"Yes," the fairy said, "you shed Love Tears when you said you were sorry to your mom. How did you feel when you said it?"
"Well," Megu said, "I understand that my mom was feeling more sad than I was. And she was working so hard for me ... I thought that I shouldn't be crying anymore. I'd like to do something to make my mom happy, instead."
"You have learned to love others by understanding your mother's sadness," the fairy said. "The Love Tears you shed for your mom made my dress turn pink, the colour of the Heart."
"I see ..." said Megu. "Love Tears. But what IS love? It seems difficult."
"Yes, it is difficult," the fairy replied. "I myself don't understand it very well. But I think you can't really love others when you're only thinking about yourself. You've experienced a lot of sadness, Megu, but it isn't the end of the story. I want you to learn something from what's happened to you. Your tears could be a magic pendant to reflect the sadness of others. It's a wonderfull gift from God."
"I think I understand a bit," Megu said. "But I don't want any sadness as a gift. If you are a fairy from the Land of Tears, can't you get rid of all the tears in the world?"
"I'm sorry, Megu, I can't do that. It would be wonderfull if there was a world without sadness, but I don't have such power to change the world all at once. Think of it this way ... people can't really love others if they don't know sadness. Those who are hurt the most can have more love, and sow the seeds of love in the hearts of others."
Megu didn't entirely understand and sat somewhat puzzled for a while. All of a sudden, she looked up at the fairy.
"Can I ask for something else then? We traveled back in time before.. can you show me the future instead? I'd like to know if I can be happy some day."
"Well, now. That's going to be ... hmm, your requests are tough!" replied the fairy. She sat thinking for a moment then clapped her hands together as if a good idea had just struck her.
"Oh, yes! That's right!" exclaimed the fairy. She pulled a small heart-shaped pendant out of nowhere as if by magic. "This is a special pendant that fairies make out of Love Tears. I have heard that this might help you see your future. I'll give this to you in return for the lotus necklace you gave me. Look into this when you are alone."
She put the pendant around Megu's neck.
"Thank you, Fairy!" Megu said delightfully. She felt relieved suddenly, as if she were going up through the light blue waves again.
"Thank you again, Fairy. I'm feeling much better now. I'm going to be okay. I won't cry anymore," she said cheerfully with a shining smile.
"That's won't be any good," the fairy said with a wink and a mischevious grin, "you can cry once in a while, or there won't be any place for me!"
Megu winked back at her, and in the very next moment, the fairy disappeared.
Megu found herself alone again in closet. This time,though, she no longer felt lonely.
"See you again, fairy."
She took the shinning stone necklace the fairy had given her and looked carefully into it. The little heart-shaped stone looked pink at first, but soon turned into a rainbow of colours which glittered. She could see someone moving in the center of the stone, and thought it might be herself in the future. She tried hard to look closer, but the stone was shining so brightly that she couldn't quite see anymore.
She was a little bit disappointed, but somehow felt a peace in her heart. She gave a great big yawn. She felt exhausted not because of the things which had happened over the night, but rather because of the things which had happened over the years. As soon as she rolled herself into her blanket, she fell fast asleep.
The heart-shaped stone was still shining on her chest in the darkness. A single word gradually came out of the stone.
H O P E.
Well, then ... what was it that Megu saw in the heart-shaped stone? The secret will be revealed to only those who are reading this story now.
The figure she saw was Megu 20 years later. It was Megu, after 20 long years, whose father finally decided to tackle his terrible alcoholism which is now known as a mental as well as physical diseasae. It was Megu, who now learned that there are so many other people and families suffering the same disease, that she wasn't alone in bearing such distress, and was glad to have never given up hope.
It was Megu, who turned all her sadness and hardships into the power of love. And she had started writing a story for children, all with bright futures ahead of them but may now be crying themselves to sleep every night, wetting their pillows with tears. And Megu has just reached the end of her story.